Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 21 Dec 2017

1. Damian Green sacked for pornography lies

Theresa May has fired her closest political ally, Cabinet Secretary Damian Green, after an investigation by the Cabinet Office concluded he lied when he said police had not told him they found pornography on his Commons computer. The inquiry also found a young family friend who claimed he harassed her was a “plausible” witness.

2. Car driven into crowd in Melbourne

At least 19 people have been injured at a cable car stop in Melbourne, Australia, when a car was driven into a crowd. Twelve people were taken to hospital. It is not yet known if the incident was terror-related – one report said the vehicle was not travelling at speed. The driver of the Suzuki SUV was arrested, along with a second man.

3. Trump threatens to cut aid over Jerusalem vote

US President Donald Trump yesterday threatened to cut “billions” of dollars of aid from nations which vote today for a UN General Assembly resolution which has been tabled to condemn the US for recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Trump said: “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

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4. Government backs down on Brexit date

After eight hours of debate in the Commons yesterday, the EU Withdrawal Bill passed on to the next stage of its progress towards becoming law, after the Government accepted a compromise on the date of Brexit. The bill will still enshrine a date for leaving the EU in law – but MPs will have the power to delay it if EU states agree.

5. Warning shots fired as North Korean defects

South Korean troops yesterday fired warning shots over the border at North Korean soldiers who were pursuing a comrade as he defected to the South. The fourth North Korean soldier to defect this year, the man walked across the demilitarised zone between the two nations in a thick fog. The 19-year-old appears unharmed.

6. Catalans vote in controversial election

The Catalonia region of Spain is holding parliamentary elections today, imposed by the country’s central government after the regional leadership declared independence. The election will be decided on the issue of independence, an issue which has proved deeply divisive for Catalans, splitting families and friends on political lines.

7. Australian submarine found after 103 years

The wreck of an Australian submarine which sank 103 years ago has been found on the ocean floor off Papua New Guinea. HMAS AE1, the fledgling nation’s first submarine, disappeared without trace with 35 Australian and British crew onboard during the First World War. It is thought the sub struck the bottom of the ocean when diving.

8. Apple admits slowing performance of iPhones

Apple has admitted it deliberately slows down iPhone 6S and 7 handsets as they age, to cope with older batteries supplying less power. The decreased processing speed is a result of a software fix released in 2016 to stop phones from abruptly shutting down when their batteries are overstretched. The slowing was discovered by a third party firm.

9. US television host quits over gender pay gap

US presenter Catt Sadler has quit her job at E! News after learning that she earned about half what her male co-host takes home. After 11 years with the network, Sadler said she had asked for “what I know I deserve and [was] denied repeatedly”. Quitting, she asked: “How can I remain silent when my rights under the law have been violated?”

10. Briefing: Plans for ‘water cremation’ put on hold

Controversial plans to introduce “water cremation” for the first time in the UK have been shelved amid concerns that human remains might find their way into the water system.

A council in the West Midlands had been granted planning permission to offer what it describes as a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cremation. The process involves placing the corpse in a torpedo-like metal chamber where it is liquefied and then flushed down the drain.

Plans for ‘water cremation’ are put on hold

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